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Thread: Blue Sky Clouded Mind

  1. #1
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Blue Sky Clouded Mind

    Hello all

    I am beginning to think we ought to add a vow, making it 5 vows, to answer all questions though answers endless.

    I am am finding myself in a state of confusion as to exactly the right method for shikantaza. Now I am sure some will say oh well by now you ought to know what you are doing , and maybe it is more that now that I have some experience, I do not really think I DO know. I want to make sure I am doing this correctly, not that I am rushing towards enlightenment or anything like that.

    My confusion arises with the whole concept of returning to the blue sky in your mind. I don't really think I understand what we are to do with thoughts when we sit. Some say let them be, some say let them go. Taigu, I believe, says drop everything.

    In one of Jundo's instructional videos he talks about returning to the clear blue sky. This is a similar technique to Taoist "seated earth meditation" in which one sits and visualizes a blue sky and each thought is a cloud which you visualize blowing away. Maybe this is why I get confused.

    So do we

    1. simply make an effort to drop all thoughts and visualize a clear blue sky?

    2. Is the blue sky thing just a metaphor for dropping all thoughts?

    3. Do we drop all thoughts or just sit with all thoughts letting them be?

    4. Are any of these thoughts on thoughts correct?

    What I have been doing is just sitting, and when thoughts come up just letting them go, telling my mind to not dwell on them this is the time for not-thought. Is this correct?

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    Thank you!


    Gassho
    C

  2. #2
    Hi Clark,

    Some say let them be, some say let them go. Taigu, I believe, says drop everything. In one of Jundo's instructional videos he talks about returning to the clear blue sky.
    I do not see much difference there in the words.

    Just Sit, not grabbing onto thoughts that come into mind, not wallowing in long trains of thought, "opening the hand of thought" and letting go when finding oneself caught in thoughts nonetheless. Same with various negative emotions (such as fear or anger) during Zazen. That is all. It is not an "effort", so much as just releasing, not grabbing on. (Yes, I would say the clear, blue boundless sky is a metaphor for so).

    Sit with dedication, as the only Place to be, only Act in need of acting in that moment. Sit knowing in one's bones that sitting is Whole and Complete.

    In doing so, one will find a quiet boundless Illumination that shines between thoughts, like the sky when free of clouds. However, one will also find such Illumination shines right through and as the thoughts themselves ... much as the sky and sun shine through clouds (a metaphor) ... and the thoughts become translucent, and are no long encountered as before.

    Our experience of the self and world and life becomes different ... and the frictions, resistance, borders and barriers soften and drop away. and one finds Silence, Peace, Wholeness,

    Is that now clear as day?

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-10-2014 at 05:06 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Clark,




    Just Sit, not grabbing onto thoughts that come into mind, not wallowing in long trains of thought, "opening the hand of thought" and letting go when finding oneself caught in thoughts nonetheless. Same with various negative emotions (such as fear or anger) during Zazen. That is all. It is not an "effort", so much as just releasing, not grabbing on. (Yes, I would say the clear, blue boundless sky is a metaphor for so).

    Sit with dedication, as the only Place to be, only Act in need of acting in that moment. Sit knowing in one's bones that sitting is Whole and Complete.

    In doing so, one will find a quiet boundless Illumination that shines between thoughts, like the sky when free of clouds. However, one will also find such Illumination shines right through and as the thoughts themselves ... much as the sky and sun shine through clouds (a metaphor) ... and the thoughts become translucent, and are no long encountered as before.

    Our experience of the self and world and life becomes different ... and the frictions, resistance, borders and barriers soften and drop away. and one finds Silence, Peace, Wholeness,

    Is that now clear as day?

    Gassho, J
    Actually I think I can simply just say.. Yes. But, I will keep sitting with it, just to make sure.

    Gassho
    Clark

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post

    So do we

    1. simply make an effort to drop all thoughts and visualize a clear blue sky?

    2. Is the blue sky thing just a metaphor for dropping all thoughts?

    3. Do we drop all thoughts or just sit with all thoughts letting them be?

    4. Are any of these thoughts on thoughts correct?

    What I have been doing is just sitting, and when thoughts come up just letting them go, telling my mind to not dwell on them this is the time for not-thought. Is this correct?

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    Thank you!


    Gassho
    C
    First, great questions, all of which I've had and still have - it's never ending, to me, but that's the point. Second, this reminds me of Sam's thread. In any case, here's the "problem" from my little perspective: it's difficult to know how to do "shikantaza" correctly because there's literally no objective and formulaic way to do it and even with a book like Opening the Hand of Thought (which I think strives hard to make a "guidebook" for shikantaza) no one can really really show it to us. Therefore we use metaphor (the sky thing) or the very very literal "drop everything," both of which can only point. The difficulty, of course, is when actually sitting and encountering thoughts and feelings. There arises this problem of "am I letting thoughts go now? do I consciously let this thought go, or is that pushing the thought away? where is this "blue sky"? is my zazen apathetic or is it goal-driven? am i really just sitting or, etc, etc?"

    All of that is the freaking point of zazen, to me: sitting reveals to us the circles we engage in; the circles of thought and emotion. Trying to zazen reveals the circle of trying to zazen, our desperate need to "figure it out" even if we think we're not trying to get enlightened.

    In the other thread, Sam has questions about "technique" - I'm basically convinced that all of the "method no-methods" that he mentions are all the same, in actuality, and that they merely appear different to our discriminating mind.

    Here's my take, only because sometimes another's perspective can be helpful: when we sit, some of us might focus on the "spacious awareness" or some of us might repeatedly "let thoughts go and return to the body sitting as sitting." We're all individuals and everything we learn here at Treeleaf must be experimented with and tried and figured out on our own, as you already know. Jundo cannot sit for us. Taigu cannot sit for me. And so, I go in these same circles, asking myself whether I'm doing it right or not, but sitting is not about right or wrong, it is allowing everything, including oneself, to be just as one is: for me, this means sitting and wholeheartedly observing all things and accepting all things. So when a thought comes, I watch it, but I do not think "I need to let that thought go, it is a cloud, and I'm supposed to be in the clear blue sky;" I try to sit and just watch the thought or feeling and just watch myself. It is an allowing. Shikantaza is the dropping of figuring out how to shikantaza, with great trust and acceptance in where you are, and therefore, without volition or intention, with great gratitude.

    And then there are just thoughts and feelings and the wall and the trees outside and my wife drying her hair in another room. And there are larger and larger spaces between thoughts, but that doesn't mean thoughts or feelings aren't there, it's just that they are quieter and part of the "blue sky," part of the quietness now. So for me, my problem is often mistaking "the sky" as good and the "the clouds" as bad, when actuality they are both the same, just as we are the same as everything when we allow everything to sit with us.

    Maybe this is all wrong, and if so, that's okay, I'll keep sitting.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  5. #5
    Guys, don't overthink this thinking non-thinking.

    Just sit as described, not getting tangled in thoughts ... letting go when tangled.

    And most vitally ... Sit with dedication, as the only Place to be, only Act in need of acting in that moment. Sit knowing in one's bones that sitting is Whole and Complete.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    Actually I think I can simply just say.. Yes. But, I will keep sitting with it, just to make sure.
    Clark,

    Wow...you must be rather "advanced" then! I still haven't a clue.

    Let's just sit then, shall we? No mud to clear; immersed in mud! It is nothing but what we think it is.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  7. #7
    alan.r,

    wow! Thank you, that is one of the best descriptions I've ever read.

    Sometimes even "the watcher" goes away. And if not, no matter. "Immersed in mud" is zazen too.

    Gassho
    Lisa

  8. #8
    There is always the opportunity to sit together on G+

    Gassho Daizan
    大山

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    There is always the opportunity to sit together on G+

    Gassho Daizan
    Yep, and PS: sorry I was a little late this morning. In my sleepiness I was having trouble navigating G+.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  10. #10
    I have begun to notice lately that folks seem very much concerned about what to do with the thoughts during Zazen, but few people seem to mention the following ... which is perhaps the most vital aspect of all. This is the crux, and must not be missed:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    And most vitally ... Sit with dedication, as the only Place to be, only Act in need of acting in that moment. Sit knowing in one's bones that sitting is Whole and Complete.
    Here is my standard long version:

    One must sit with the attitude [felt in the marrow of the bones] that sitting itself is the Whole and Complete Act, the one thing to do ... the only thing in need of doing ... in that moment in all reality ... no other place to go, no other action in need of doing in such moment. Sitting is not an instrumentality or technique to the realizing of something ... and thus in dropping all thought of instrumentality toward realization, one realizes what can only be realized in such way.

    ...

    Thus, when there is sat an instant of Zazen as wholeness in just sitting, the only place to be and act to do in that instant, in all of reality, to fulfill life as life ... the Buddha and all the Ancestors just sitting in that instant of sitting, no other thing to attain or which ever can be attained ... no other place to go or in need of going ... all holes filled, whether full or empty or in between ... all lack and excess resolved in that one sitting, with not one thing to add or take away ... judgments dropped away, "likes and dislikes" put aside ... nothing missing from Zazen (even when we might feel that "something is missing", for one can be fully content with the feeling of lack!) ... the sitting of Zazen and all life experienced as complete and whole as just the sitting of Zazen ... the entire universe manifesting itself on the Zafu at that moment ...
    I wonder why folks seem so concerned about what to do or not do with the thoughts (which is fine), but do not seem concerned about the rest. I cannot emphasize such enough.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I have begun to notice lately that folks seem very much concerned about what to do with the thoughts during Zazen, but few people seem to mention the following ... which is perhaps the most vital aspect of all. This is the crux, and must not be missed:



    Here is my standard long version:



    I wonder why folks seem so concerned about what to do or not do with the thoughts (which is fine), but do not seem concerned about the rest. I cannot emphasize such enough.

    Gassho, J
    Yes, thanks Jundo. I've noticed this and this is what I was trying to get at above. There is nothing to do with thoughts! Nothing! We have nothing to do with them! All I really meant to express in my above comment is that there "seems" like there is something to do with thoughts because thoughts are always part of the equation of shikantaza (drop Thoughts; let Thoughts go; let the Clouds/Thoughts pass, etc) - but this is the difficulty we all get trapped in sometimes, focusing on "thoughts" as though they're somehow different from everything else, somehow not blue sky also, some the "most important" part of the shikantaza thing. It's like chasing after enlightenment/trying to let go of thoughts. For me, I sit with a great allowing, acceptance, and gratitude, and out of that, there is wholeness, thoughts and all.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  12. #12
    Thank you Jundo ... I like this old adage that I heard once before. "When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep. When doing the dishes, do the dishes. When sitting, sit." =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    And so, I go in these same circles, asking myself whether I'm doing it right or not, but sitting is not about right or wrong, it is allowing everything, including oneself, to be just as one is: for me, this means sitting and wholeheartedly observing all things and accepting all things. So when a thought comes, I watch it, but I do not think "I need to let that thought go, it is a cloud, and I'm supposed to be in the clear blue sky;" I try to sit and just watch the thought or feeling and just watch myself. It is an allowing. Shikantaza is the dropping of figuring out how to shikantaza, with great trust and acceptance in where you are, and therefore, without volition or intention, with great gratitude.

    ....... So for me, my problem is often mistaking "the sky" as good and the "the clouds" as bad, when actuality they are both the same, just as we are the same as everything when we allow everything to sit with us.

    Gassho
    Wonderful post! You, me and clark should probably form an "allowing" group against Jundo and dosho's "letting go" group

    Clark, thank you for asking this question and sorry if I confused you with my thread yesterday

    Gassho,
    Sam

  14. #14
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I have begun to notice lately that folks seem very much concerned about what to do with the thoughts during Zazen, but few people seem to mention the following ... which is perhaps the most vital aspect of all. This is the crux, and must not be missed:



    Here is my standard long version:



    I wonder why folks seem so concerned about what to do or not do with the thoughts (which is fine), but do not seem concerned about the rest. I cannot emphasize such enough.

    Gassho, J
    Yes, that is a good point and thank you for underlining this important aspect also.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Clark,

    Wow...you must be rather "advanced" then! I still haven't a clue.

    Let's just sit then, shall we? No mud to clear; immersed in mud! It is nothing but what we think it is.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Yes thank you Dosho. I am very precocious aren't I?
    Gassho
    C

  16. #16
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    There is always the opportunity to sit together on G+

    Gassho Daizan
    Assuming you can drag your lazy butt outa bed......

    Sorry fellas!

    Repentant Gassho,
    As a priest in training, please take everything I say with a pinch of salt

    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    Yes, thanks Jundo. I've noticed this and this is what I was trying to get at above. There is nothing to do with thoughts! Nothing! We have nothing to do with them! All I really meant to express in my above comment is that there "seems" like there is something to do with thoughts because thoughts are always part of the equation of shikantaza (drop Thoughts; let Thoughts go; let the Clouds/Thoughts pass, etc) - but this is the difficulty we all get trapped in sometimes, focusing on "thoughts" as though they're somehow different from everything else, somehow not blue sky also, some the "most important" part of the shikantaza thing. It's like chasing after enlightenment/trying to let go of thoughts. For me, I sit with a great allowing, acceptance, and gratitude, and out of that, there is wholeness, thoughts and all.
    Pesky thoughts! I think most of us focus so much attention on thoughts because, for many years, those thoughts were what we thought of as "us". I think, therefore I am! Yes, indeed. But then we muck it up by believing that thoughts make us who we are. I think, therefore I am all these things I tell myself, which are affected by other people's thoughts in limitless combinations...and stuff. That isn't quite as catchy, now is it?

    The brain is a marvelous creation, but it also causes a lot of pain and suffering. We wouldn't be anything without it...and yet we so easily think it is everything we are. I do not believe that to be so.

    Or at least, in my limited experience as a priest in training, that's what I think. There, see! I'm still doing it! How about a sit instead? Better yet, how about a sit also?

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Hello,

    One's bones know sitting is Whole and Complete.

    One's bones that don't, can't be forced to realize.


    How does one get to Carnegie Hall?


    Gassho,
    Myosha
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to praj˝a from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  19. #19
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    For me, this is hard to articulate in words. If I am sitting openly and spaciously, just sitting, I am aware of the thoughts that arise and that awareness frees me to let go of the thoughts. Sometimes, I latch onto a thought and start chewing on it. In those moments, I am no longer sitting openly and spaciously, but I am not aware of that because I am letting the thought take over and intrude. But then something happens. I become aware that I have latched on, that I am grinding my gears, and in that moment of awareness, I can let go of the thought and return to just sitting. So, for me at least, as soon as I become aware of my thinking, I stop thinking. Sounds like complete nonsense, but words fail me here.

    Gassho,
    Juki
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  20. #20
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Hi Juki,

    Not nonsense. For me, you describe it pretty well. Thank you.

    Gassho
    Genshin

  21. #21
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Thank you all, great thread. Nothing to add, just reiterating that the sky is always clear, even when it's cloudy, and that we see this when we feel no need to look at anything else, accepting the wholeness of the sky that neither comes nor goes. Unless its raining, perfectly all right to use an umbrella and see that even the rain is clear.

    Gassho, Foolish John

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by rculver View Post
    Assuming you can drag your lazy butt outa bed......

    Sorry fellas!

    Repentant Gassho,
    Don't worry about it. I was asleep the whole sitting anyway. Dreamed I was flying over Niagara falls in a zeppelin. Strange.


    Gassho Daizan
    大山

  23. #23
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Sitting is simple, folks.
    Although its depth is beyond description, it is instantly available.
    Thoughts? They will never stop and thinking about thoughts is a good way to get lost...in them.
    It is funny to see how our habits and conditioning creep in our practice and we sit here as capitalist animals, trying to get better, make it work, control it, get something out of it. We draw maps and describe steps and stages, out if the boundless we scoop a bit of dust and claim it is our own or we stand helpless wanting to get an explanation.

    The bottom line: shikantaza is useless and so are we.

    The joy of being nothing...

    Gassho

    T.
    Last edited by Taigu; 06-11-2014 at 01:17 AM.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  24. #24
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    As long as you present pounds of flesh and crafted words, you don t practice the real thing.
    When the real thing and only this sits you, then pounds of flesh and crafted words don't matter anymore.

    The point is not "to get it" but to forget it.

    Please read, practice and become Genjokoan
    Ten thousand things arise
    In this dust and light
    Are not one neither two
    The hell with I and others
    In this
    we loose everything
    Surrender everything
    In this
    It
    is
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  25. #25
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    I used to worry a lot about all these technical points, wondering why there wasn't some really precise user's manual of shikantaza. Then I just stopped trying to get it, and figured that it was better to just give up trying to get it right.

    Gassho,

    Kirk


    (Posted from my iPhone; please excuse any typos or brevity.)
    -----

    I know nothing.

  26. #26
    Great thread, thx.
    Was lost but now I'm fine 😊


    Kind regards. /\
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  27. #27
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    Wonderful post! You, me and clark should probably form an "allowing" group against Jundo and dosho's "letting go" group

    Clark, thank you for asking this question and sorry if I confused you with my thread yesterday

    Gassho,
    Sam
    I manage confusion all on my own. But thanks just the same
    Gassho C

  28. #28
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    This is a great thread, thanks for posting, Clark. I have wondered these same questions also. I have been sitting for 1 yr now, and I think I"m just starting to get this shikantaza. What I mean is that there is nothing to **get** and it's taken me a year to get that. I just sit and let go, and let go again and again, surrendering again and again, as my mind continues to wander. As Taigu said, it is nothing and so are we. And yet, in practicing it, there is something there, even if it's just the "joy in being nothing"

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  29. #29
    Hahaha "capitalist animal". How true, and I love that saying! What can I get out of it... and forgetting so much as Jundo said the dedication required. I always have problems remembering that practice is not for myself. So often I use it to get something.. peace of mind.. reducing it to some crap, fake zen.

    Awesome posts

    Gassho,

    Risho

  30. #30
    Here is a link to genjo koan (Nishijima's translation) that Taigu is referring to:

    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachin...oan8.htm#nish1

    Gassho,
    Sam

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    You, me and clark should probably form an "allowing" group against Jundo and dosho's "letting go" group

    Gassho,
    Sam
    I'm in and with you. And then our allowing group can allow the letting go group to join us even in the midst of our allowing of letting go. (I don't know - this is meant to be a Zen zinger but I can't pull them off like Jundo)

    Quote Originally Posted by rculver View Post
    Assuming you can drag your lazy butt outa bed......
    I barely made it today and was probably very close to where Daizan was, nodding off.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Pesky thoughts! I think most of us focus so much attention on thoughts because, for many years, those thoughts were what we thought of as "us". I think, therefore I am! Yes, indeed. But then we muck it up by believing that thoughts make us who we are. I think, therefore I am all these things I tell myself, which are affected by other people's thoughts in limitless combinations...and stuff. That isn't quite as catchy, now is it?
    Right on, Dosho.

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    As long as you present pounds of flesh and crafted words, you don t practice the real thing.
    When the real thing and only this sits you, then pounds of flesh and crafted words don't matter anymore.

    The point is not "to get it" but to forget it.
    Thank you Taigu. Shutting my trap. Sitting.

    Gassho all.
    Shōmon

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    Yes, thanks Jundo. I've noticed this and this is what I was trying to get at above. There is nothing to do with thoughts! Nothing! We have nothing to do with them! All I really meant to express in my above comment is that there "seems" like there is something to do with thoughts because thoughts are always part of the equation of shikantaza (drop Thoughts; let Thoughts go; let the Clouds/Thoughts pass, etc) - but this is the difficulty we all get trapped in sometimes, focusing on "thoughts" as though they're somehow different from everything else, somehow not blue sky also, some the "most important" part of the shikantaza thing. It's like chasing after enlightenment/trying to let go of thoughts. For me, I sit with a great allowing, acceptance, and gratitude, and out of that, there is wholeness, thoughts and all.

    Gassho
    Yes, lovely. Sitting letting drift away, without tangling with thoughts (or however one says it) is vital.

    Sitting as Buddha sitting Buddha ... Buddha Buddhaing Buddha ... Sitting Just Sitting as Wholeness, a Perfect Act ... is vital.

    Both are parts of the Shikantaza "non-equation".

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Pesky thoughts! I think most of us focus so much attention on thoughts because, for many years, those thoughts were what we thought of as "us". I think, therefore I am! Yes, indeed. But then we muck it up by believing that thoughts make us who we are. I think, therefore I am all these things I tell myself, which are affected by other people's thoughts in limitless combinations...and stuff. That isn't quite as catchy, now is it?

    The brain is a marvelous creation, but it also causes a lot of pain and suffering. We wouldn't be anything without it...and yet we so easily think it is everything we are. I do not believe that to be so.
    Yes, our thoughts and attitudes color the world.

    I happened to catch a story about a woman who has a disease which led her to be bullied. She is billed as the "world's ugliest woman", but her attitude is beautiful.

    Lizzie Velasquez, 25, of Austin, is one of three people in the world with an unknown condition that causes accelerated aging as well as fat loss from the face and body. She's never weighed more than 70 pounds. When she was in high school, she stumbled across a YouTube video with millions of views. It was titled "World's Ugliest Woman" and it was about her. In a TED talk earlier this year, Lizzie told the audience how the title affected her, but yet, she was determined to fight back. With that comes The Lizzie Project, an anti-bullying documentary that tells Lizzie's inspirational story. TED TALK HERE: [url ]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c62Aqdlzvqk[/url]

    That led me to watch a series of short films on other children born with all manner of serious "defects" and "deformities" (words by which we judge from our standards of beauty, health and "normalcy" ... though isn't each sentient being precious as they are?). Some of them seem to mentally handle their lives with a Wisdom that would put many adults to shame. I go each week to a school for kids with profound autism, down's syndrome and the like, which renders most of the kids beyond speech ... yet, boy, can they SMILE!! and find joy in the small activities of life (and frustrations too, like the rest of us).

    One can see one's "problems" as "problems" or something more (another judgement, for each "problem" is also a Precious Jewel seen by Buddha's Eye). One can use one's state as a base to Teach what is real beauty, acceptance, Happiness.

    Our Way of Shikantaza allows the Clarity and Illumination to shine ever through such seeming tragedy and ugliness, refracted like light through a Jewel.

    (Of course, our way is never either/or ... and though each "defect" is simultaneously a "Precious Jewel" ... I so long for the day when we find a cure for so many of these "Precious Jewels" impacting kids. It is beautiful and tragic at once, and a "beauty" that I hope we can someday live without.)

    Anyway, the Buddha and your Grandmother would say ... attitude and what we think (or non-think) makes all the difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juki View Post
    For me, this is hard to articulate in words. If I am sitting openly and spaciously, just sitting, I am aware of the thoughts that arise and that awareness frees me to let go of the thoughts. Sometimes, I latch onto a thought and start chewing on it. In those moments, I am no longer sitting openly and spaciously, but I am not aware of that because I am letting the thought take over and intrude. But then something happens. I become aware that I have latched on, that I am grinding my gears, and in that moment of awareness, I can let go of the thought and return to just sitting. So, for me at least, as soon as I become aware of my thinking, I stop thinking. Sounds like complete nonsense, but words fail me here.

    Gassho,
    Juki
    Quote Originally Posted by Nameless View Post
    Thank you all, great thread. Nothing to add, just reiterating that the sky is always clear, even when it's cloudy, and that we see this when we feel no need to look at anything else, accepting the wholeness of the sky that neither comes nor goes. Unless its raining, perfectly all right to use an umbrella and see that even the rain is clear.

    Gassho, Foolish John
    Lovely! Lovely!

    So many other wise voices here too ...

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-11-2014 at 03:20 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  33. #33
    Some wonderful responses, thank you everyone, I have enjoyed reading this thread. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  34. #34

    Blue Sky Clouded Mind

    Nice thread. One Life to live and some questions get so exhausting. I just sit with back straight. That's all.

    Gassho, Jishin
    治 Ji (Healing)
    心​ Shin (Heart-Mind)

  35. #35
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    Sitting is simple, folks.
    Although its depth is beyond description, it is instantly available.
    Thoughts? They will never stop and thinking about thoughts is a good way to get lost...in them.
    It is funny to see how our habits and conditioning creep in our practice and we sit here as capitalist animals, trying to get better, make it work, control it, get something out of it. We draw maps and describe steps and stages, out if the boundless we scoop a bit of dust and claim it is our own or we stand helpless wanting to get an explanation.

    The bottom line: shikantaza is useless and so are we.

    The joy of being nothing...

    Gassho

    T.
    Thanks Taigu
    I guess as a newbie I am trying to get it. However, I am not really trying to "gain" as much as I want to make sure I am playing baseball with a baseball and not a football. I can't be doing shikantaza uselessly, if I am not doing shikantaza. But in "getting" it, I will definitely not try to make something of it.
    Gassho
    C

  36. #36
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Clark,

    Read through Taigu's message again because I don't think you were really listening!

    If you sat for 10 years "playing baseball" and then found out you had been playing with a football, what would it matter?

    Yes, we sit with no thought of gain, but I would be shocked if after sitting that long you had not changed at all!

    It was only after I dropped ALL THOUGHT of gaining that I truly gained anything and I can tell you that if nothing had changed after 7 years of sitting then I doubt I would be here right now.

    As Jundo often says, if you have no thought of change, that is a really BIG change!

    This is as plain as I can say it: DROP EVERYTHING. Let me say that again. DROP. EVERY. THING.

    Let it go...then you'll discover there was never anything there in the first place.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

    P.S. Just in case you missed it: DROP! EVERY! THING!

    P.P.S. Please keep in mind, I am only a priest in training. I may know absolutely nothing.
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  37. #37
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thanks Dosho and everyone else trying to help and contribute.
    Gassho
    C

  38. #38
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Dosho puts it really beautifully.

    Gassho

    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  39. #39
    Yes Dosho puts it beautifully. Alan did it beautifully. The problem though is this. Jundo is the main teacher here. He is the one that gets into every thread and keeps posting his description. And the way he describes it is very confusing. I strongly feel that is the reason most students and newbies here are left confused. Shikantaza might be difficult to make sense of. But Jundo's descriptions are making it only even more harder to understand. I'm sure he understands it in his mind correctly. I'm sure most senior students and teachers and priests in training get what he says. But to beginners, he is only adding to the confusion with his descriptions.

    Every time a senior student or priests or other teachers posted, I benefited and got something out of it. Alan, Dosho, Kyonin...everyone. But with Jundo, it has been of very little help, though he is the one who tried to help most.

    Here is the problem. Shikantaza is something that the student has to learn on his own; through his sitting. Giving complex descriptions and asking students to sit with all of that descriptions in mind (or bones whatever) is totally unhelpful. In addition to that he adds a disclaimer saying if we don't sit that way, that is not shikantaza. Seriously?

    As a teacher all you need to do is to encourage the student to:

    - simply sit with the trust/knowing that whatever happens is okay
    - not expect anything from practice

    the student will learn on his own.

    All these complex descriptions don't aid the student and will only kill his trust especially when he is told any other way to sit (other than what Jundo describes) is incorrect. I feel until this changes, students on our forum will continue to face this problem

    I honestly don't have anything against Jundo. I know he is a very nice person and always willing to help. It is just that I feel his teaching style is affecting many students and wanted to speak up and tell what I truly feel.

    Gassho,
    Sam

  40. #40
    Sorry, Sam, you are right. Yes, of course, Zen throughout its history has been known for being so very clear and easy to understand for beginners. Thus the famous Koan, "What is the sound of TWO hands clapping"? Or, "What were your parent's names AFTER they were born?" The old Zen guys waving their fly swatters through the air in circles were simply swatting flies, and Shobogenzo is a tangle to grasp because, gosh, Dogen was just a terrible writer who never took a community college class on proper prose.

    I say what I mean and I mean what I say: If one does not sit Shikantaza as a whole and complete action, the only place to be and thing to do in time and space in that moment ... it is not Shikantaza. Such is Shikantaza 101. Ask Suzuki and Rumme (and truly understand their point).

    As a teacher all you need to do is to encourage the student to:

    - simply sit with the trust/knowing that whatever happens is okay
    - not expect anything from practice

    the student will learn on his own.
    That is foolish and most naive. That is like a math teacher telling her students, "Whatever answer you come up with the the equation is okay. Do not expect anyway. You will learn on your own". Algebra is tough but, I believe, worth trying to figure out, even if in "Zen Math" 1+1 = 2 and 1 and none and everything and that's not all (except when they do not)! Of course, some folks just don't have a head for it and flunk out.

    Perhaps, Sam, the reason some seem to run from teacher to teacher trying to find the one who will let them understand is simply because they do not understand how to "non-think" outside the box?

    If people don't like what is taught here, they should go do something else. Find some advice from a magazine. Sit on the sofa and watch Breaking Bad reruns or something less a waste of time.

    Another Koan ... "Why did Bodhidharma Come from the West?" The Tree In The Garden.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-12-2014 at 07:07 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  41. #41
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Sam, I honestly don't know where you are coming from here, I have always found Jundo's words most helpful and very wisely crafted. If I may suggest, his style does not suit you and does not speak to your mind.

    Gassho

    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  42. #42
    Jundo, firstly my apologies if I said anything bad. My intention was only to bring up a point. Now to some healthy discussion...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Sorry, Sam, you are right. Yes, of course, Zen throughout its history has been known for being so very clear and easy to understand for beginners. Thus the famous Koan, "What is the sound of TWO hands clapping"?....and Shobogenzo is a tangle to grasp .....
    I never said Zen is or should be easy. The instructions for practice though are always crisp and clear. I haven't seen a teacher whose instructions are so complex. It is very important for the instructions to be simpler for the student to follow and finally make sense of the complex philosophy/truth of zen. Dogen's Shobogenzo is ofcourse hard to understand but see his fukanzazenegi. He tells you to sit and nothing more. No complex descriptions of what to do after sitting. Shikantaza instruction is best left unsaid as Dogen did.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I say what I mean and I mean what I say: If one does not sit Shikantaza as a whole and complete action, the only place to be and thing to do in time and space in that moment ... it is not Shikantaza. Such is Shikantaza 101. Ask Suzuki and Rumme (and truly understand their point).
    Tell me how can one sit as an unwholesome or incomplete action? I don't even know what that is; before I understand what a whole and complete action is. Do you think this will really help the student? Rather than simply saying as in "Opening the hand of thought" wake up from distraction and drowsiness and come back to your reality. That is a simple instruction. Or follow your breath is a simple instruction. "Sit as Only place to be and only thing to do" at best can only mean don't be distracted to me. I am a stupid dumb student who doesn't understand that complex jargon.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    That is foolish and most naive. That is like a math teacher telling her students, "Whatever answer you come up with the the equation is okay. Do not expect anyway. You will learn on your own". Algebra is tough but, I believe, worth trying to figure out....

    Perhaps, Sam, the reason who seem to run from teacher to teacher trying to find the one who will let you understand is simply because you do not understand how to "non-think" outside the box?
    Yes, what I said could be foolish. I am just a student trying to learn. But there are a good number of teachers who told me that description is good. Brad Warner, Daigaku, and others I stated in my earlier thread. Anyway I strongly feel much more complex descriptions will only do harm rather than good as far as shikantaza is considered

    Sorry again if I said anything bad. My intention is only to point. I can only thank you for the efforts you put. I do too. But at the same time this is the only website that still preserves this great teaching of shikantaza and you and me and everyone should accept and learn if some feedback is being given to preserve and improve this.

    Gassho,
    Sam

  43. #43
    Also english is not my native language and if my words seem to be direct or not so polite am really sorry

    Gassho,
    Sam

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    ... It is very important for the instructions to be simpler for the student to follow and finally make sense of the complex philosophy/truth of zen. Dogen's Shobogenzo is ofcourse hard to understand but see his fukanzazenegi. He tells you to sit and nothing more. No complex descriptions of what to do after sitting. Shikantaza instruction is best left unsaid as Dogen did.
    Hi Sam,

    It is not a matter of politeness, but simply of not speaking the true. Here is Master Dogen's "clear and simple" instruction from Fukanzazengi, about which you say Dogen "tells you to sit and nothing more. No complex descriptions of what to do after sitting."

    Therefore, put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest. If you want to realize such, get to work on such right now.

    For practicing Zen, a quiet room is suitable. Eat and drink moderately. Put aside all involvements and suspend all affairs. Do not think "good" or "bad." Do not judge true or false. Give up the operations of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop measuring with thoughts, ideas, and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha. How could that be limited to sitting or lying down?

    At your sitting place, spread out a thick mat and put a cushion on it. Sit either in the full-lotus or half-lotus position. In the full-lotus position, first place your right foot on your left thigh, then your left foot on your right thigh. In the half-lotus, simply place your left foot on your right thigh. Tie your robes loosely and arrange them neatly. Then place your right hand on your left leg and your left hand on your right palm, thumb-tips lightly touching. Straighten your body and sit upright, leaning neither left nor right, neither forward nor backward. Align your ears with your shoulders and your nose with your navel. Rest the tip of your tongue against the front of the roof of your mouth, with teeth together and lips shut. Always keep your eyes open, and breathe softly through your nose.

    Once you have adjusted your posture, take a breath and exhale fully, rock your body right and left, and settle into steady, immovable sitting. Think of not thinking. Not thinking-what kind of thinking is that? Nonthinking. This is the essential art of zazen.

    The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside.
    http://www.stanford.edu/group/scbs/s...n_zazengi.html
    I think there is thinking and non-thinking. But in this case, Sam, I don't think you are thinking clearly!

    I am not sure what Bro. Brad said to you (you may be right there), but he can be something of a "just sit, and the posture will do all the work" simpleton sometimes. I am sure you misunderstood Daigaku Rumme.

    As one can see in Dogen's words, we are instructed to "think not thinking = non-thinking (Dogen uses a different Kanji for "not" 不思量 and "non" 非思量 thinking that has great significance), to "put aside all involvements and suspend all affairs", that sitting is "the dharma gate of joyful ease." We are told, "Give up the operations of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop measuring with thoughts, ideas, and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha." Zazen, in Dogen's words, is "the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized."

    Dogen seems rather far from "simply sit with the trust/knowing that whatever happens is okay - not expect anything from practice ... the student will learn on his own."

    Sorry Sam, sometimes simplicity is not so simple.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-12-2014 at 07:03 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Sam,

    It is not a matter of politeness, but simply of not speaking the true. Here is Master Dogen's "clear and simple" instruction from Fukanzazengi, about which you say Dogen "tells you to sit and nothing more. No complex descriptions of what to do after sitting."



    I think there is thinking and non-thinking. But in this case, Sam, I don't think you are thinking clearly!

    I am not sure what Bro. Brad said to you (you may be right there), but he can be something of a "just sit, and the posture will do all the work" simpleton sometimes. I am sure you misunderstood Daigaku Rumme.

    As one can see in Dogen's words, we are instructed to "think not thinking = non-thinking (Dogen uses a different Kanji for "not" 不思量 and "non" 非思量 thinking that has great significance), to "put aside all involvements and suspend all affairs", that sitting is "the dharma gate of joyful ease." We are told, "Give up the operations of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop measuring with thoughts, ideas, and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha." Zazen, in Dogen's words, is "the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized."

    Dogen seems rather far from "simply sit with the trust/knowing that whatever happens is okay - not expect anything from practice ... the student will learn on his own."

    Sorry Sam, sometimes simplicity is not so simple.

    Gassho, Jundo
    I am certainly speaking what is true to my experience. If it is not really true, then nobody will bother. You certainly should not. As they say actions speak louder than words. My little words cannot wrong all the good actions you have been doing here. But if there is some truth to my feedback please give it a thought.

    Coming to Dogen, yes I mistakenly overlooked the "Think not thinking; non-thinking" part. But his instruction "on what to do once you sit" ends there. Rest of what he speaks is about how this sitting is different from other practices but not a direct instruction on what to do during sitting (or to keep in one's mind/bones during sitting). Except for that one line he really did not say much about what to do after you sit. Did he? He revised fukanzazenegi several times but never felt writing more than that would help. Why?

    Even if we consider what he has written after that one line, as complicated, he is from 1200 BC and just because his instructions are complex doesn't mean we should also write such complex instructions. Please show me one modern teacher whose instructions are not simple to follow.

    What I gave might be too simple. Brad might be simplifying it too much. But the point is this. How can you get the student started in a simple way that will eventually lead him to the right thing? For breath following teachers, it is building focus/concentration. For us, I feel it is acceptance, learning to be in harmony with what is, letting go of control and arriving at it through non-doing, not-expecting. That is why I said "sit with the trust/knowing whatever happens is okay" and to not expect anything from the practice. "whatever happens is okay" is just an understanding not something to keep in mind during sit. By the way I am not instructing anyone, I am just stating my understanding. A student understanding. I hate to bring teachers' names but all those teachers I named approve of this description.

    Leave me. I am nobody. What you do and say are more important and affect more people than what I say in a thread or post. Hence my questions for you to ponder. How can you get the student started in a simple way that will eventually lead him to the right thing? Do you think giving complex descriptions will help a new student? Will any changes from your side help students better understand and do this practice?

    Gassho,
    Sam

  46. #46
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Hello,

    This too shall pass.


    Gassho,
    Myosha
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to praj˝a from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post

    Please show me one modern teacher whose instructions are not simple to follow.
    Okay. How about this book by Daigaku Rumme's Teacher, Sekkei Harada Roshi, translated by Daigaku? Please read the pages discussing "How To Sit Zazen", commenting on the middle portion of Fukanzazengi (for about 7 pages from where it says "Commentary 3" ...

    http://books.google.com/books?id=vat...ngi%22&f=false

    Please read, Sam, and I look forward to your impressions.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-12-2014 at 05:15 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  48. #48
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Hmmm well I feel compelled to say something here as the originator of this thread asking a question , and as a person relatively new to this. But first let me say I have been anything but a sycophant to Jundo and Taigu's teachings here, as I am sure Jundo at least can attest to.

    I really don't think there is anything overly complicated in anything that is being taught here. The instructional videos are good. When I have had questions about sitting posture, Taigu was very helpful in answering right away in clear terms. When I have had questions on philosophy and traditional methods, I have received very clear and balanced, and brutally honest answers.

    I asked a question in this thread about sitting technique, and what was meant by the blue sky and it was answered. I wasn't kidding when after Jundo answered that I actually thought I understood what he was saying. I do.

    This has been my first year practicing and sitting regularly. I bet in 10 years I will have questions too. This won't be for anyone's lack of trying to help me understand. It really doesn't seem that complicated to me to understand WHAT to do. I don't think the answers are that complicated either. Doing it takes practice, and I understand and accept that.

    If I were to attend a LIVE Zendo I wouldn't be able to get the quality of personal instruction I think I find here. Not just from Taigu and Jundo , but from everyone here.

    What's all the fuss?

    Til my next question
    Gassho
    C

  49. #49
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Sam, if I may ask, respectfully, is it possible that you have too many teachers? Running around from place to place, all you are ever going to do is change your ground. You're never going to change your sky.

    Gassho,
    Juki
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  50. #50
    Jundo,

    Thanks for sharing that. The commentary is wonderful.

    For the most part, I found it confirms my understanding of the practice. And I am not saying our understandings are in conflict.

    - Don't worry about thinking or getting caught up: Page 27 (second half) and 28 (first half). In page 28 he even defines "The movement of your thoughts" as getting caught up in a thought stream (as opposed to a single thought) and the original prose says "nor try to control the movement of your thoughts"
    - No expectations: Most pages talk about this. (E.g., don't aim to become a buddha etc...)
    - Taking the ego-self out or letting go of control, letting it happen: Many pages talk about this. I think this what you mean by sitting as whole? one with everything. by letting go of control?

    Tells me all the more to sit simply without worrying much. Please let me know if you disagree

    I'll order and read the book too. Thanks for sharing it again.

    Juki, yes I did sit with several teachers/zendos in the last one year. I did not though formally call anyone my teacher except for Taigu.

    Gassho,
    Sam

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